Garth Brooks promised Dewayne Blackwell and Bud Lee that he would put their song on his second album. (For whatever reason, it didn't make it on the first) Garth did just that and put "Friends in Low Places" on his No Fences album and went from country star to super pop and country star overnight.
Prior to super stardom, in March 1990, at the NSAI awards banquet in Nashville, a young man from Oklahoma asked to sit at our table of five Louisville-area writers and myself. Garth stopped by 20 minutes later and informed his brother and friend that they had found room for them at his table. It's doubtful such an inconvenience would happen today after Garth's third album.
It may not have been the case, but I've heard of some managers shying away from songs that put their artist in a bad light, too much drinking, being put down too hard by the opposite sex, etc. I have the feeling they might not have been sure about Garth doing the song. Unfortunately, a great song such as this one has to go the round-about method on occasion, usually through an unknown singer on an independent label.
It's nice to see a singer and his promoters take chances and go for it. Brooks' perfect delivery of this song personifies his down-home, good-old-boy image of the man that he is. Hopefully, others in Garth's and friend's positions will follow suit and not be so gun shy when coming upon a great song with a questionable black mark against their singer's reputation. I don't think Garth would have any second thoughts about that song now.